There’s a lot of crap that’s been going around for quite some time about “helicopter” parents in general. There are definitely extremes (that are NOT okay), but at the same time, I don’t think anyone has truly addressed the positives about being a helicopter parent. It’s not all bad, people…
Why I AM a helicopter mom (and I’m not ashamed of it)
Before I go any further, let me say that my “helicoptering” does not go nearly as far as some parents. I do let them do stuff on their own, I prefer to teach them things rather than do things for them, etc. But I am also not going to let them go off on their own and do whatever they want for endless amounts of time. I don’t let them walk places all by themselves, I don’t let them go on sleepovers or drop them off at birthday parties (I know, hate me).
Here’s my reasoning. Yes, they do need to learn life skills, they do need to be independent enough to make their way in the world, they do need to be confident enough to succeed. But they DON’T need to be placed in scenarios they are not yet able to handle, without any help to learn how.
I know, you say I’m crippling them.
How many stories have you seen spanning the news recently (or even crossing your own personal life) about child abuse of any form? Shaming certain body types or even just levels of “weirdness?” Adults confessing how childhood trauma (that most others would deem as irrational or unimportant) affected them well into their teenage years and shaped their entire lives?
Yes, there are boundaries. There are things all children should experience and learn in order to grow into capable adults.
But here’s what I’m saying: helicoptering (in many forms) is okay.
Especially when it keeps a child safe.
Because that’s our ultimate goal as parents, right? To raise healthy, capable, and unscarred children.
I think every parent’s worst nightmare is for their child to be truly hurt. A scratch is one thing, but long-term physical or emotional damage is completely different. I am not about coddling a child for stubbing his toe. But at the same time, I am not going to let him run off into a minefield and *hope* he figures out which areas are unsafe.
The most important thing about parenting is knowing your child’s limits, and equipping them to reach further. Exploration and discovery are wonderful things, but let’s teach them how to take full advantage of these experiences, rather than sending them off in the dark and hoping they figure it out, at whatever age or skill level they happen to be.
It’s like going to a new country with a different culture and values. Wouldn’t you be embarrassed if you sat down to eat a meal as you always would, only to find out that your mannerisms and even the way you placed your hands completely offended your host and those around you? All because no one took a moment to explain to you that things were different here, and teach you the basics you needed in order to at least be cordial to your host.
In the same way, if we don’t teach our children HOW to ask the questions they need in order to explore and discover… We leave them to wander like little cavemen, hoping they bump into the discoveries already made, when we could instead help them stand on our shoulders and reach further than we ever could. And we also blind them from potential mistakes that could handicap their entire future.
Should we not, at the very least, guide these little humans in their discovery, enabling them to make bigger choices than we ever could based on the solid foundation they have received?
In light of all the horrific stories we hear from both children and adults these days, you would think there would be more “helicopter” parents, and less of the opposite–simply because we, in our very nature, seek to protect what we love. We can let them fall and pick themselves up again and learn without willingly sending them into a pack of wolves.
It’s a hard job, parenting. We will all make countless mistakes. We will all feel incapable. But we all have the tools to help our littles grow bigger than ourselves. And that, I think, is the whole point of parenting.